TANF program lifts whole person to a better life

At the heart of all the work performed by Catholic Charities is this old proverb: Give people a fish today and tomorrow they’re hungry again, but teach them to fish and they’ll be fed for a lifetime. Our mission is to uplift people, give them hope, and open doors. 

The people served by our programs may receive immediate relief but our goal is for them to thrive forever. Rosmarlyn de los Santos Reyes is a success story from a program that clearly reflects our mission and the fishing proverb.

Rosmarlyn de los Santos Reyes with her son

She was referred to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Case Management (TANF-CM) program, like all of the program’s clients, by the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS). People in the DSS Temporary Family Assistance program receive cash assistance and are encouraged to find employment, save money and become self-supporting, but when they have insurmountable barriers preventing their success they are referred to Catholic Charities for help.

Rosmarlyn and her 3-year-old son were living in a rented room and needed help from our TANF program to improve her housing situation. That’s when Case Manager Jessica Rivera stepped up and started identifying resources that could improve the lives of Rosmarlyn and her son.

Jessica didn’t just help Rosmarlyn find a new living situation – that would be just giving her a fish to eat today, like the proverb. Instead, Jessica and the other TANF case managers take a holistic approach to support the whole person and find solutions to their wide range of potential needs.

TANF helped Rosmarlyn obtain money for a deposit and first month’s rent for an apartment. Jessica found beds for their new home and new clothes for the mother and child. But TANF doesn’t just stop with providing material comforts and other items. It also teaches them to manage their money and save. 

Jessica regularly met with Rosmarlyn in an office or at her apartment to talk about her spending and saving, encouraging responsible financial habits that smooth the road to independence.

“We provide clients with the resources and it is up to the client to achieve their goals,” Jessica said. “We are here for support.”

Jessica also told Rosmarlyn about a continuing education program at Capital Community College in Hartford that provides students with career training and certification. Rosmaryln completed the program and found a job as a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) caring for elderly people.

For Jessica, seeing her clients succeed is incredibly rewarding and a text with good news from a client is a thrill. She recently received a card from Rosmaryln thanking her for all her support and love. It says Jessica became like a sister and friend to her small family.

Rosmarlyn is on her way. She has learned to fish.